Transforming Infant Nutrition to Give Every Baby a Strong, Healthy Foundation

Author: Andrea Ippolito


Breastfeeding can provide important health and financial benefits for new families. But insufficient healthcare coverage, underlying medical conditions, and economic obstacles can make breastfeeding difficult or impossible for many parents. In this memo, a three-pronged approach is proposed—facilitated by an interagency collaboration through the National Advisory Council on Maternal, Infant, and Fetal Nutrition—to transform infant nutrition. First, to increase breastfeeding rates in the United States, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) should alter reimbursement policy by reimbursing tele-lactation and nutrition support for all babies covered under Medicaid. Second, the government should partner with the private sector to launch a “Synthesizing Human Milk Grand Innovation Challenge” to catalyze new extramural R&D and innovation efforts to accelerate commercialization of breast-milk alternatives for those that cannot breastfeed. And finally, the government should enact paid parental leave policies to give parents financial flexibility and dedicated time after birth to breastfeed.

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About the Author

Andrea Ippolito is a Lecturer in the College of Engineering and SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell University. Prior to joining Cornell, Andrea served as the Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Innovators Network within the VA Center for Innovation. She is a former Presidential Innovation Fellow based out of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and General Services Administration. She obtained her MS in Engineering and Management from MIT in 2012, along with her BS in Biological Engineering in 2006 and Master of Engineering in Biomedical Engineering in 2007 from Cornell University.